- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Speaker's Ruling
- The Senate
- Criminal Code
- Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament Bill
- Main Point of Contact with the Government of Canada in Case of Death Bill
- Study on Challenges and Potential Solutions Relating to First Nations Infrastructure on Reserves
- The Senate
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Percy Mockler, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, presented the following report:
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to agriculture and agri-food, has, in obedience to the order of reference of December 9, 2014, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Mockler, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, February 24, 2015, at 2 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-555, An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence).
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Martin, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, yesterday, immediately after Senator Carignan, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, moved his motion respecting security arrangements on Parliament Hill, Senator Cowan, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, raised a point of order. He was concerned that the motion attempts to delegate power to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in a way that is not permissible under the Parliament of Canada Act. He also argued that, if the motion is adopted, certain provisions in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act could actually have the effect of subjecting security in the parliamentary precinct to the control of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Senator Carignan suggested that these concerns could be best dealt with through debate on the motion. He underscored that the motion specifically requires that any changes be made "while respecting the privileges, immunities and powers of the respective Houses." A respect for the rights of Parliament is therefore integral to the motion. He argued that it would allow the Speakers, working with the RCMP, to decide the most appropriate way to coordinate security. This would provide essential protection to parliamentarians.
Senator Carignan rejected the idea that the Senate was abdicating its responsibility in relation to security. The motion would allow the establishment of a new security arrangement, and the two Speakers would continue to have a central role. Senator Carignan stated that "[i]t will be up to the two Speakers, in their discussions with the RCMP and the new unified security force, to negotiate the different systems so that they are accountable and report to" the Speakers. Later he noted that the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration actually proposed a coordinated security system in the recent past. His arguments that the motion is in order were supported by Senator Martin when she intervened on the point of order and urged that debate be allowed to continue.
Senators Fraser, Ringuette, Cordy and Joyal also spoke, all questioning the propriety of the motion and supporting Senator Cowan's concern. Senator Fraser found the motion to be unclear, presenting fundamental problems, including her understanding that it would hand control of security over to the RCMP. Senator Cordy argued that the motion is disrespectful towards the Internal Economy Committee, the Senate and Parliament. Senator Joyal, for his part, refrained from saying whether the goal of the motion was desirable. He was, however, concerned about the process being followed. He questioned whether a motion, as opposed to legislative amendments, was the appropriate vehicle for such changes.
In considering this issue, a brief review of the history of security in the parliamentary precinct may be helpful. The provision of security on Parliament Hill can be divided into two broad periods. Until 1920, a contingent of the Dominion Police — one of the federal police forces — provided security for Parliament and the government buildings that are now the East and West Blocks. When the Dominion Police was united with the Royal Northwest Mounted Police to form the RCMP, the task of protecting federal property was, in most cases, assumed by the new federal police force. Parliamentarians, however, decided that they no longer wished an official police presence within the buildings, resulting in the establishment of separate security services for each house.
This was not done by statute. Security arrangements in and around Parliament have therefore not been static, but have shifted and evolved over the years. The motion at issue proposes further adjustments in these structures. Details, we have been given to understand, would be worked out by the two Speakers.
Senator Cowan's basic concern was that the motion would result in a delegation of authority falling outside the structure provided by the Parliament of Canada Act. Although the Speaker does not interpret matters of law, it would be helpful to put the relevant provisions on the record.
Section 19.3 of the act states that:
Subject to subsection 19.1(4), the [Internal Economy] Committee may act on all financial and administrative matters respecting
(a) the Senate, its premises, its services and its staff; and
(b) the members of the Senate.
Subsection 19.1(4) clarifies that:
In exercising its functions and powers under this Act, the Committee is subject to the rules, direction and control of the Senate.
The plain language of this provision makes clear that the Senate retains ultimate control over any powers exercised by the Internal Economy Committee. As such, the Senate itself remains master of its internal administration and its business. The Senate exercised this right in the past, by deciding to establish separate security services, and could do so again in the future if it so wished.
In terms of the strict mechanics of the motion, appropriate notice was given, and there is no obvious defect in its language or content, at least in terms of parliamentary practice as opposed to law, which is not within the Speaker's jurisdiction. The motion proposes that the Senate invite the RCMP to take a lead in operational security throughout the precinct, with details of arrangements to be worked out through careful discussions and negotiations. None of this abrogates the basic privilege of parliamentarians to have free access to their offices, to committees and to the Senate. Such arrangements could even be altered in the future if the Senate so decided. So the Senate would ultimately retain the rights and privileges required for it to its function independently.
Some senators expressed concerns that the motion was unclear or incomplete. To the extent this may be the case, the correct vehicle to refine its content is to explain problems during debate and to bring forward amendments to provide greater clarity.
In terms of our Rules and procedure, there is no reason to block consideration of the motion. The ruling is therefore that the motion is in order and debate can continue.
Before continuing with Orders of the Day, let me assure honourable senators that, if the motion passes, I will, in discussions and negotiations, take my role as custodian of the rights and privileges of the Senate and individual senators most seriously.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Marshall:
That the Senate, following the terrorist attack of October 22, 2014, recognize the necessity of fully integrated security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill, as recommended by the Auditor General in his 2012 report and as exists in other peer legislatures; and call on the Speaker, in coordination with his counterpart in the House of Commons, to invite, without delay, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to lead operational security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill, while respecting the privileges, immunities and powers of the respective Houses, and ensuring the continued employment of our existing and respected Parliamentary Security staff.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, we are called today to study and debate a motion that is rather unique.
We are often called to deal with matters that will have a long-term impact and we do not necessarily see their immediate and concrete effects. Today, however, the motion we are moving directly affects the future of our parliamentary functions in the Senate. This motion certainly affects how security will be provided to us, senators, and also the parliamentarians at the other place, all employees of Parliament, any dignitaries we welcome, guests or witnesses who come to meet us on a host of subjects and, finally, Canadians who come to visit their Parliament and attend parliamentary proceedings. It is important to remember that Parliament is the people's house, a symbol of Canadian democracy, and it must stay that way and be protected.
Last fall's tragic events, as well as the institutional importance of the sites and the people who work there, are the reason we must reconsider security measures on Parliament Hill to ensure the highest level of security.
In light of these tragic events, we must meet the challenge of balancing the rights of the public to have access to our buildings, while guaranteeing a high level of security.
Every year, over 1.5 million visitors come to Parliament Hill, and around 400,000 visit Centre Block. We can be proud of these numbers and can only hope they will increase in the future.
The federal Parliament is the most powerful symbol of our democracy and freedom. We can only hope that many Canadians will visit this institution and claim its history and heritage as their own. At the same time, we have the responsibility to assure and guarantee the physical integrity of these people and this place.
The events of October 22 showed us just how courageous the men and women who are responsible for our safety are and how seriously they take their mission. They are well trained, they think on their feet and they do not hesitate to risk their lives to protect us. Because of their swift action, October 22 did not end in an unspeakable slaughter. Unfortunately, a soldier was killed at the National War Memorial, and that in itself was a significant and senseless loss.
However, this somber day could have been even more tragic had it not been for our police forces. We must pay tribute to these men and women who, every day, protect us, the parliamentary staff and our visitors.
That being said, honourable senators, we must take note of the events of that fateful day and draw conclusions which will help us improve our protection and security system.
Since the fall, much has been done in that regard. A joint committee with the House of Commons has already been set up in order to look at security issues. The Senate and House of Commons security services are in the process of being combined, and most of our Senate security guards are now armed. However, we need to do more and go further.
The reality of our Parliament is unique. Most of the buildings where parliamentarians carry out their duties are located on Parliament Hill. However, we also make use of other buildings that are not on the Hill, which means that more security forces are required to protect parliamentarians. By way of evidence, let's look at the events of October 22, 2014, when at least four security services played an active role and intervened over the course of the day. The Senate and House of Commons security services were called upon immediately, and were later joined by the RCMP, which is responsible for security outside Parliament, as well as the City of Ottawa Police.
For the past several years, the issue of security on Parliament Hill has often been at the very centre of the many stakeholders' concerns. Every time an incident occurs, we attempt to improve our ability to anticipate threats and respond to them. However — and I really don't have an explanation for this, dear colleagues — we never manage to follow through on proposed changes.
The unification of the security services of our two chambers is a good example. As far back as 1980, and then again in 1991 and 1992, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada recommended this unification. More than twenty years after the first recommendation was made, the Office of the Auditor General made the same recommendation but, despite the approval of the Internal Economy Committee, the unification was never carried out.
Nevertheless it is vital that we ensure coherence and fluidity in the exchange of intelligence and greater coordination in the implementation of action plans. The danger of having three security services on Parliament Hill is that it creates stovepipes that operate in parallel and have difficulty coordinating their efforts. This coordination is essential when planning security measures, and it is vital when an event occurs or when a threat materializes and is acted upon.
I don't need to emphasize the serious security risks created by a stovepipe system of management. Today's motion will unify and organize our security services on Parliament Hill, and also limit risks to a minimum. It invites the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to lead operational security throughout the Parliamentary Precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill.
The RCMP is the police service that operates across the country, a police service that has all the resources required to maximize the effectiveness of its operations on the ground and, above all, that has the high-level expertise that will guarantee the safety of Canadians. Therefore, it is the operational service best suited to take charge of security on Parliament Hill, both inside our buildings and on the surrounding grounds.
With respect to intelligence, operations, prevention, stepped-up security, tactical squads, safety and proximity, the RCMP is the only police service to bring together all the operational and tactical resources needed to ensure the security of Parliament Hill.
However, the motion sets out a very important principle. The RCMP will be called upon to coordinate, while respecting the privileges, immunities and powers of the respective houses. It will also be required to ensure the continued employment of our existing and respected parliamentary security staff. With this motion, we are acknowledging the supremacy of Parliament and parliamentarians, acknowledging that Parliament must be independent in performing its duties, and acknowledging our commitment to our existing security services and to the professionalism of the security staff. Thus, security services continue to be a necessary part of carrying out the primary mission of our institutions.
An efficient security service must act on different fronts at the same time. It cannot just react to events. It must be able to prevent, detect and intervene. It must be able to offer coherent training to its members, to have the necessary resources to give complete and exhaustive briefings, flexible and adapted to all situations. It must have access to a complete source of information, which is both relevant and targeted, and it must be able to establish a clear chain of command and reporting relationships that are acknowledged and respected.
We are convinced that the RCMP has the expertise and the resources to fulfill this responsibility with great efficiency, and that is why we are putting forward this proposition.
When I hear some parliamentarians from the NDP in the other place opposing this proposal, claiming that it would disrupt our parliamentary traditions, that it is not consistent with our institutional heritage and that it would undermine the necessary separation of powers between the legislative and the executive, I have to wonder whether these members are living on the same planet as us and whether they are aware of the realities we are facing in 2015.
Should the tragic events of last fall and the more recent events in Paris — not to mention the daily atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic State armed group — not be a reality check of the world we live in? There was no terrorism in 1920. It is now an unfortunate part of our reality.
Furthermore, the same members who cite parliamentary tradition and our institutional heritage are calling for the outright abolition of the Senate, which is a building block of our country. We have to question how sincere their arguments are.
Envied by many, Canada is a safe country, open to the world and a defender of peace and freedoms. We will never let a few heinous groups, whoever and wherever they are, undermine these values that are so dear to us. Canadians are very attached to these values, and they have asked us, as parliamentarians, to do everything in our power to protect them. We must act now. It is our duty and our responsibility.
We must never again witness attacks on our democracy knowing that we had the opportunity to prevent them but stood idly by or found that our ability to react was paralyzed by bureaucratic debates.
In essence, the motion we are debating today would unify our security forces, combining all of their dynamic parts to create a shield for our democracy against organized extremist groups and to protect us from troubled and dangerous individuals who might decide to do terrible things.
In closing, it is important to note that this motion specifies that the new roles and responsibilities should be coordinated through the Speakers' offices. The Speakers will maintain the separation of parliamentary powers and so on. The RCMP would not be in charge; the Speakers and Parliament would. We have a plan to deploy the new security measures over the next few months. This would all be under the control of the Speakers of both houses. Considering the Speaker's ruling earlier and his commitment therein to protect parliamentary rights, immunities and privileges, I have full confidence in the work he will do in this regard.
I therefore invite you, honourable senators, to support this motion wholeheartedly, thereby confirming our unwavering support for the remarkable and essential work that our security forces do to ensure our basic and constitutional freedoms.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): I have a couple of questions for my friend, if I may. I listened carefully to what he had to say. I will want to reflect on that, and I will speak tomorrow on this motion.
Senator Carignan referred, as a justification for this motion, to the tragic events of last October 22, which certainly affected us all. Following that, as he said, a joint committee was established, chaired by Senator White for our chamber and, I think, by Speaker Scheer for the other place. That committee, as I understand it, has done some work and has visited other countries. They certainly studied the procedures and practices in place in other countries. In addition, it's my understanding that the Ontario Provincial Police were asked to review the role of the RCMP in the events of that day.
So my question is, why now? We have two ongoing reviews, two ongoing studies. I would have thought it would be appropriate to wait for the report and recommendations of those two studies before we decide that we would move as suggested in this motion or, indeed, in any other way. Why now? Why not wait for the outcome of those two ongoing studies?
Senator Carignan: Senator, as I said in my presentation, having a stovepipe system hinders security, communication, and coordination of operations. As I said, this was raised for the first time in the Auditor General's report in 1980. It was raised in the Auditor General's report of 1991-92 and of 2011-12. This was also the conclusion reached by the Internal Economy Committee, which, in 2012, as I said, adopted a resolution to unify all the security services.
Stovepipes hinder security. An integrated approach to security on Parliament Hill is essential, as was noted by the Internal Economy Committee and the successive reports of the Auditor General. Our goal is to move forward with the transition in partnership with all the players in charge of security. I don't think we need to have another study to come to the conclusion that stovepipes hinder coordination and security operations.
Senator Cowan: Senator Carignan, I was not arguing against the concept of integration and coordination. I agree with that. I think that the reports, to which you've referred, talk about the need for this. I support that. But none of those reports, to my understanding, suggests that it ought to be the RCMP that is given overall responsibility, overall coordination and operational responsibility. I think that is one option. That may be the best option, but surely there are other options. Perhaps the establishment of a separate police force or security force for the Parliamentary Precinct would be another.
I would have thought — and again I ask for your response to this — why would we not wait until we had the report and recommendations of the two studies: the OPP report and the committee chaired by our colleagues Senator White and Speaker Scheer? Why would we not wait for their report and recommendations before deciding which of the various options is the right one to follow to accomplish the integration and the coordination that we all agree are necessary?
Senator Carignan: Senator, as I said and as you admitted, I think, it is important to have a coordinated integrated service. Why would the RCMP lead the operations of an integrated security service that would be in charge of security throughout the Parliament precinct? As you know, the RCMP has access to vast resources to which other forces do not. It has extensive experience in security assessment and intelligence-sharing that is essential for dealing with today's evolving threats. The RCMP is currently in the best position to provide effective, efficient and timely services.
Furthermore, given the importance of the situation, I don't think we can afford to wait and let this drag on any longer. For over 30 years now, reports from the Office of the Auditor General have been calling for better coordinated security forces. I think we have seen the result of this lack of coordination and the risks associated with the fact that we are working with a stovepipe system. The health and safety and the very lives of the people who visit and work in this place must be protected, and so must the symbol of democracy and freedom that is the Parliament of Canada. The symbolic aspect, as well as the integrity of the people and the integrity of the buildings, must all be protected, and we must do so as quickly as possible.
Senator Cowan: Did the government consult with the joint committee or at least with the co-chairs of that committee about the formulation of this motion? And if not, why not?
Senator Carignan: I personally consulted the Speaker before moving this motion and, as far as I know, this was done in the other place as well.
Senator Cowan: There are two phrases I wanted to ask you about because it's important, if we're going to vote on something, to have an understanding of what it is we're voting on. The first phrase is about calling on the RCMP "to lead operational security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill." What does that mean?
Senator Carignan: I am not sure that I understood your question. Could you repeat it? There is a slight delay because of the interpretation. Your question is certainly not the one I heard, because the answer would be too obvious.
Senator Cowan: Do you have the motion? I'm reading from the motion, which says, "and call on the Speaker, in coordination with his counterpart in the House of Commons, to invite, without delay, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — " and these are the words I'd like your comment on to understand what you understand these to mean " — to lead operational security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill."
What is your understanding of the words "to lead operational security throughout the Parliamentary precinct and the grounds of Parliament Hill"?
Senator Carignan: It is my understanding that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would lead security and the operational aspect, both inside and outside Parliament, by using the current forces tasked with security, that is, the staff already in place, so that it would be integrated into the security unit.
Senator Cowan: Thank you. The second phrase, immediately following the phrase we just discussed, says "while respecting the privileges, immunities and powers of the respective Houses." What is your understanding of that?
Senator Carignan: As you know, parliamentarians have privileges and a constitutional role conferred by conventions, history or traditional practices. These rights and privileges must not change. What does that mean? For example, one privilege is the right to enter Parliament, to move about freely inside Parliament. It is referring to all the privileges, immunities and rights of parliamentarians required to carry out their duties. Naturally, I will not list them all. As you know, there are a large number of privileges that have been established by practices.
Senator Cowan: During debate in the other place, the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of State and Chief Government Whip, who I believe is the sponsor of the companion motion in the House of Commons, said:
The motion calls for the coordination of the new responsibilities and roles to be through the Speakers' offices.
The Speakers will be in charge, not the RCMP. Minister Duncan continued:
There will be a detailed implementation plan developed over the coming months outlining a phased approach to deploying a fully integrated security model. All of that will be under the control of the Speakers.
Is that the position of the government as you, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, understand it?
Senator Carignan: You quoted Minister Duncan at the end. I understood your quote. We obviously agree with Minister Duncan and we take the same position.
The Hon. the Speaker: I see senators rising. Senator Cools, on a question.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: I thank Senator Carignan for his speech today, and I commend his good intentions in many ways. I am wondering about the modus operandi of the Leader of the Government and the way of bringing this matter to senators. I would think, Senator Carignan, that the privileges, immunities and powers of the two houses, particularly of the Senate, should guarantee us, as senators, better notice and better involvement in this decision as opposed to the fixed idea that has been put to us as a motion that only seeks a yea or nay result with no real input.
I am wondering, Senator Carignan, if you have considered the possibility of coming to the Senate to seek a reference for a Senate committee to study the issues in substance and in form. This would be an opportunity for us senators to present their ideas on the matter. Senator Carignan, why is it that you have not asked the Senate for a reference for one of our committees or a special committee, or even a joint committee with the House of Commons, to study these difficult issues?
Senator Carignan: I don't know whether you were here yesterday when I spoke to the point of order. I quoted a resolution from Internal Economy, which was adopted in 2012, to have a unified and fully integrated security force. The Auditor General also set out this resolution, which dates back to 2012, in his annual report that year. This resolution was part of the recommendations made in a number of Auditors General's reports, in particular in 1980, 1991-92 and 2012. This topic has been studied. As for the 2012 resolution, I remind senators that this resolution was the subject of an in-depth study by the Auditor General. From what I recall, the Auditor General consulted external security resources for advice on this issue. This was a long process. A large number of people and many senators shared their thoughts. A number of senators participated in these committees and always came to the same conclusion, particularly Senator Stratton and Senator De Nino, distinguished colleagues who left this chamber before their recommendations could be implemented. In light of these events, especially those of last fall, it is time to take action to prevent similar events from happening as we continue to study this issue.
Senator Cools: I thank the honourable leader for his response, but I do not think he has answered my question.
I am impressed to see that the government is cozy with the Auditor General and is citing Auditor General's reports in respect of unification of the two houses' security. Quite frankly, I do not think it's any of the business of the Auditor General, but that's beside the point. I have been observing this coziness quite a bit recently.
We must come back to the fact that there is a motion here which is unsupported by a Senate study and hard evidence. I am not suggesting that the honourable leader does not have some evidence, but I say that we ought to be able to study and to test that evidence and hear witnesses on that evidence. It may surprise Senator Carignan, but there have been many players, some easily identified, who have been pushing for unification of the two houses' security for quite some time.
There are many senators, now long gone, who always resisted such unification because senators' experience with the House of Commons is that the Senate always loses in respect of the House of Commons because they are so much larger and they have so much more money and proximity to the government.
I notice, Senator Carignan, that you keep referring to "Parliament," and you used the word all through your speech, but Parliament has three different parts. So I am never too sure when you say "Parliament" whether you are speaking about the House of Commons or the Senate. However, Parliament has three constituent parts: the House of Commons, the Senate and the Queen. The word Parliament is not always helpful. The government in the House of Commons uses the term "Parliament" to refer to the House of Commons all the time. It is not a helpful term. We, the Senate, never use the term "Parliament" to describe the Senate. What I am saying to you, Senator Carignan, is that there are many hard-working and good senators here who would be pleased to accept the challenge of constituting a committee or working on a committee to study the questions in depth and who, at least, would be acting from the constitutional position of being a senator so that the Senate's interests would be better represented and more clearly articulated.
This, unfortunately, to me is an idée fixe, as we used to say. I do not think that you should properly begin at the end. This motion is a conclusion —
The Hon. the Speaker: Do you have a question?
Senator Cools: Yes. I was just asking the leader if he would reconsider his position and ask the Senate for a reference that could enlist the assistance of many able and interested senators.
Senator Carignan: As you said, we have resources who can consider various issues in the Senate. In the past, some senators considered the matter and issued their findings, which were never implemented. I am thinking, for example, of Senator Stratton and Senator Di Nino. They presented recommendations that were never implemented. We have the opportunity to do that now.
Senators will not be left out of the process. As I said, the Speakers of both chambers will establish the parameters, in cooperation with the RCMP and the new unified force. Knowing how wise our Speaker is, I am confident that he will take into account the opinions of experts and Senate resources in order to come to an agreement with the RCMP.
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: My question is to the leader. Do you know if the government has contacted the Commissioner of the RCMP and got his opinion on this?
Senator Carignan: Senator, I am sure that discussions were held with the RCMP to examine the feasibility of this operation; otherwise, I don't think such a motion would have been moved.
Senator Campbell: Do you have direct knowledge of that, or are you just guessing?
Senator Carignan: I am pretty sure that there have been discussions, since our government moved this type of motion.
Senator Campbell: So that would be guessing. I wonder why you believe that you can bring a motion such as this here without ever having any in-depth knowledge of it. One of my concerns is that the last time we had a motion from a former leader over there, we ended up with what Senator Cools referred to as the close relationship between the Conservatives and the Auditor General, which I quite frankly don't believe in. I don't want to find ourselves in the same boat here when it comes to security.
Are you aware that we have joined the two parliamentary security forces, that we've armed ours, and that we're working towards a joint security for all of the Hill but that at the present time it includes only those inside this precinct?
Senator Carignan: Senator, I am well enough informed about this process. However, the RCMP is responsible for the grounds of Parliament Hill and provides support for officers on the Prime Minister's detail. The City of Ottawa is also a partner when it comes to security outside the grounds of Parliament.
Considering your expertise and your experience, I'm sure you are aware of the problem of stovepipes, when it comes to coordination and cooperation, and I'm sure you are aware of the risks that problem presents.
Does anyone remember when protesters unfurled banners covered in propaganda on Parliament's roof because the roof was nobody's bailiwick? That's a great example of the kind of problem that can come up when we don't have an integrated operational force covering the entire precinct. That's the goal.
Despite the fact that we have seen the beginnings of a degree of integration between the forces of the House and the Senate, that is not enough. I'm sure you know that the RCMP has experience with intelligence as well as certain skills when it comes to prevention and technical and tactical teams. We believe that the RCMP can lead the operations of the integrated security force.
Senator Campbell: Not to put too fine a point on this, but with regard to the Greenpeace demonstration and with regard to the attack on October 22, that was RCMP territory. A guy walked on this Hill with a long rifle, walked past God knows how many Mounties sitting in cars outside and came into our building, where he was stopped by our security. Greenpeace got on the roof; they never got into the building. And if we're to believe that the outside is well protected by the RCMP, I have difficulties when I look at these two instances.
I also would like to know where you got the idea that the RCMP has vast resources. I'm sure that the commissioner would be laughing in his office at that.
Two weeks ago they announced that 500 members had to be transferred from organized crime to terrorism. We know that FINTRAC, which is run by the Mounties, has only ever laid possibly two charges in all of their years. The RCMP is grossly understaffed and grossly underfunded. I would like to know where you got the idea that they have vast resources.
Senator Carignan: Senator, you yourself have said, many times, that there were a lot of RCMP officers and vehicles outside. The RCMP has considerable resources available. Based on your past experience and your expertise, you have to admit that the RCMP is a highly professional police force. You mentioned the roof, but during the debriefing held after the event, it was determined that no one was responsible for the roof.
This is an example of a stovepipe and lack of coordination. When I was a mayor, I was responsible for security. You were a police officer and you were also a mayor. You were certainly aware of the huge problem of security and risks associated with certain stovepipe operations. We will not list those operations, but they exist, and when someone with evil intentions decides to look for one and take advantage of it, the damage can be devastating.
We must do everything in our power to mitigate these risks as much as possible. We can probably never fully eliminate these risks, but we have a legal obligation to ensure that visitors to and employees of Parliament are safe. We must ensure that Parliament, a symbol of democracy and freedom, is protected and that we do whatever is necessary to keep it safe.
I think that Canadians agree with us on this.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Campbell: Moving on to another area, Bill C-84, with the two Speakers to control security. As you know, I was a Mountie. I'm proud of being a Mountie. I love the Mounted Police, but I also know that if I'm a mayor and I hire the Mounted Police, the chances of me controlling what happens in my detachment are zero. My detachment commander reports directly to the commissioner, so anything that happens within my city is directed from the commissioner, not from the police commission in a community or, in this case, from our Speakers.
How will you go about changing, one, the law that says that is exactly how the reporting procedures go, and two, the constitutionality of the Speakers being responsible for the security on the Hill?
Senator Carignan: As you mentioned, security is a constitutional power for which the Speakers are responsible.
You were a mayor. You certainly had to sign a service agreement with the police to identify needs. It is common practice for municipalities to do that when they are being served by a police force that is not their own, and those parameters are set in the service agreement.
We can draw a parallel, somewhat awkwardly perhaps, with the constitutional authority of the Speakers with regard to security. They will sit down with RCMP representatives, they will agree on the security needs, and they will ensure that the privileges and immunities of the senators and the Senate are respected.
Hon. Colin Kenny: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Leader of the Government.
I'm concerned, leader, that you're being selective in giving your examples of support for your position. You mentioned the Auditors General and you also mentioned Internal Economy, but you made no mention of the work done by Internal Economy in the 1990s, when I was chair, when we did examine this problem. We hired a retired commissioner of the RCMP, Commissioner Inkster. He conducted a study on behalf of the Senate and reported back that he felt that the structure that we had was workable and effective, and he did not recommend a change.
Senator Carignan: I did not read the report, but I see, regretfully, that Senator Kenny is incorrect. There were incidents because there were flaws in the system. We have to make sure such things never happen again.
Senator Kenny: I also have to express some concern about your reliance on stovepipes. You've given us no evidence that there has been a stovepipe problem in relation to the events of last fall. You did make reference to the Greenpeace demonstration, but that was precisely the opposite of a stovepipe problem. There was no House of Commons protective staff in the West Block at the time. It was a construction site, and the security was entirely the responsibility of the RCMP at the time, and so this was a question of the RCMP communicating with itself, not problems with the two services that we have here in the Senate and the Commons.
Senator Carignan: I have some public examples that are related to security matters. Since you ask, I will give you some.
In 1989, people were taken hostage on a bus in Montreal. The Montreal police service lost track of the bus as it headed to Ottawa. The bus ended up on the lawn of Parliament after a series of communications breakdowns. The House of Commons was evacuated 45 minutes before the Senate. For the same incident, the same danger, the House of Common was evacuated 45 minutes sooner than the Senate.
At that point, it was agreed that both houses should use the same communication network and should proceed with the same operating protocol.
Then the incident happened last October and the Senate staff were told they were in lockdown. Strangely enough, once again, that happened 45 minutes after the House of Commons. Even though both houses were supposed to be on the same communication network, it turned out that they had two separate communication networks.
Those are two typical examples of problems with coordination and interoperability when there are stovepipes.
Senator Kenny: You are quite right, senator, that you should choose your examples carefully. You clearly have no idea what happened with the bus that came from Montreal. I was here, and I watched it. It came and ended up on the front lawn and did not come near this building, the house or the Senate. They were surrounded by Mounties outside, and it was of no effect for either chamber. They weren't at risk. The bus stayed where it was. The person who was with the bus stayed on the bus and there was no risk for the Senate or the House of Commons. There was only a risk for a reporter who managed to get through the RCMP lines and get too close to the bus itself.
No stovepipes here. No problem that actually affected things.
When you talk about what happened between the two chambers, the Senate performed very well. It actually locks its door, and you don't get in without a Senate Protective Service staff person opening the door.
The House of Commons also appears to have behaved well. There was an individual who engaged the assailant immediately and got shot in the leg for it. There was another officer, we were told, who fired a round into the assailant, and there was a third who had an opportunity to shoot and chose not to because of the people that were in the area and, from all the information we have, behaved very well.
Now, when I say "all the information we have," the problem is no one in this room has seen the OPP report yet. We don't know yet whether there was a breakdown of some consequence or not, but there is no reason to believe that stovepipe problems had anything to do with the outcomes that took place on the day involved.
Senator Carignan: What you said about the 1989 incident is interesting, namely that there wasn't a threat. If there wasn't a threat, why were the House and the Senate evacuated 45 minutes apart? I was not here, but you were. You are perhaps making your own assessment of the events.
However, I can tell you what we determined after consulting experts and having read the Auditor General reports on the risks posed by stovepipes. I trust the merit of the experts consulted and the importance of their recommendations. I also have personal knowledge of the risks caused by stovepipes. Although I am personally convinced based on my experience, the phenomenon has also been confirmed by a number of experts.
We need not wait for the Ontario Provincial Police report to determine whether stovepipes played a part. Some facts speak for themselves, and the simple fact that there are stovepipes means that there is a risk that must be eliminated.
Senator Cowan: The whole premise for this motion is the events of October 22. Let's suppose this motion had passed and the system that is proposed in the motion had been in place prior to October 22. How would it have affected the events of that day?
Senator Carignan: We cannot turn back the clock and try to reconstruct the event, or spell out what could or could not have happened.
One thing is certain, however, if we consider that 45 minutes elapsed before the Senate received the order to evacuate, and that there were gunshots during that 45-minute period. That delay alone is a sign that, although there were no consequences that day, there could be very serious consequences some day in the future.
Senator Cowan: The proposal which you have put to the house is that because of the threat of the events of October 22 and the stovepipe that you repeatedly refer to, the system that you propose will eliminate the possibility of that happening again.
Explain to me how stovepipes that you describe and putting the RCMP in charge — and I get this from Senator Campbell's point and Senator Kenny's point — will work. We have no reason to believe, at least I have no reason to believe — and you may have more information. I would be pleased to hear it, but I have no information that there was anything that took place inside the doors of this building that indicated any lack of coordination, lack of integration, lack of professionalism or lack of expertise.
How was it that the very force your government proposes to put in charge of all of this, to ensure the safety of us and the people who work and visit here, is the force that allowed somebody to run from Wellington Street to the front doors of Centre Block? That's the entity that you have chosen as the vehicle to coordinate of all this activity.
My question is: What is it in this motion that would have prevented what happened on October 22 from taking place?
Senator Carignan: Senator, I think we need look back a bit and examine the Auditors General's reports that have recommended using an integrated force and eliminating stovepipes because of the risks involved.
I don't want to start dissecting the events of October 22 or assigning blame where there is none. The employees currently responsible for parliamentary security are well respected and appreciated, and we are very proud of the bravery they showed on October 22. However, bureaucratic stovepipes are a real obstacle to providing security in order to eliminate all threats and stop a threat from evolving.
We have to look at the events of October 22 as proof that we as individuals and the Parliament of Canada are targets for malicious people. If you look at that event alone as proof that Parliament is a target, from the moment you know that you are a target and Parliament is a target, you have to ask yourself how we can reduce the risk as much as possible. We can do so with the best security system possible, and that fits in with the recommendations of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Senator Carignan, you keep talking about time lags and 45-minute gaps between the House of Commons and the Senate being locked down and some previous event.
On October 22, I assume that senators on your side were all with their national caucus on the House of Commons side of the building. We on this side were on the Senate side of the building. We were in Room 160-S having one of our open caucuses.
Were you aware that the shots were still being fired in the Hall of Honour when a member of the Senate Protective Service came in to tell us that this was going on and to transform what had been an open caucus into a closed, protective situation?
Do you think that sounds like silos that detract from the efficiency of the operation?
Senator Carignan: Senator, I don't want to go into the details of the operation.
Obviously in a situation where 50 gunshots are heard and there are a number of security forces, unless you are a complete idiot, you know that there is a problem and that action must be taken. You don't need a walkie-talkie to hear gunshots. I heard them and you heard them. I didn't need someone to tell me that shots had been fired. I already knew.
I don't think that this is a good example of the risks posed by operational stovepipes. Experts considered this issue and advised the Auditor General, who examined this issue a number of times. Distinguished senators were appointed to sit on a security advisory committee. They made recommendations to the Internal Economy Committee, which had already signalled its intention, in 2012, to establish an integrated security force because of the risks created by stovepipes. This way of doing things can create gaps in the system. As parliamentarians, we cannot afford to be aware of those gaps and not do anything about them. We cannot afford to stand idly by. We would have a terrible burden to bear if we were to do nothing and another incident of this sort occurred, where the perpetrators used one of those gaps to their advantage. I don't intend to tell my children that I knew there was a problem with the system but I didn't do anything about it.
Senator Fraser: The question is not whether we should do something. The question is: What is the right thing to do?
Could you just answer me one last question, please? Whose idea was it to transform our security service into something run by the RCMP?
Senator Carignan: The recommendation to have an integrated security force is one of the recommendations made by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada and part of the resolution made by the Internal Economy Committee in 2012. The RCMP is one of the security forces on Parliament Hill. You will agree that the RCMP is the best equipped to lead this integrated force because it has access to resources, whether it be intelligence, tactical squads, or expertise in intelligence and community safety.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate take a few questions?
I am rather blessed to have my office next to the Senate security service observation centre, where there is an array of cameras that are monitored by two officers 24 hours a day. Every door to the Victoria Building, Centre Block and East Block is constantly under surveillance. However, surveillance from these cameras does not include the grounds of Parliament Hill. Are the grounds of Parliament Hill under surveillance and, if so, who is in charge?
Senator Carignan: Having seen images on television of an armed man running on the Hill, I would say that there are cameras.
The question here is on the type of surveillance or the aspects or needs related to enhancing security, be it through using cameras, the necessary monitoring equipment or the type of monitoring. These are the types of things the Speakers will be responsible for and will have to address in their agreement with the new integrated service.
Senator Ringuette: Senator, you just confirmed that cameras monitor the grounds of Parliament Hill. If these grounds are not being monitored by the Senate security guards, are they being monitored by the RCMP?
Senator Carignan: Senator, to hear your questions, I'm not sure if you are criticizing the work of the RCMP or pre-empting the findings of the Ontario Provincial Police report on the events of October 22.
The purpose of the motion is not to dissect the situation, lay blame, find flaws or determine which service acted the right way or the wrong way. We have security services that acted competently and risked their lives. Our security guards committed acts of bravery. Without them, a lot more people may have died.
Our motion is in line with previous recommendations by the Office of the Auditor General, which mandated experts and produced reports on security and the risks resulting from stovepipe operations. We believe that we need to address this situation as quickly as possible, in part because the events of October 22 reminded us that Canada's Parliament is a symbol of democracy and freedom and that symbols of democracy and freedom may be attacked by malicious groups, particularly terrorist groups.
Since we are targets, wouldn't we be better off ensuring that we have the best possible security system instead of a huge bull's eye painted on our backs?
Senator Ringuette: Senator, I find it a little strange that you would talk about a situation as justification for closing up gaps and eliminating stovepipe effects in connection with the safety of parliamentarians on the Hill.
Before people get to the doors of the buildings, they have to cross the grounds. If you go out there today, you'll see a whole bunch of cameras on the Langevin Block monitoring the grounds of Parliament Hill. The RCMP monitors those cameras. On Wednesday morning, when there is a caucus meeting and the Prime Minister arrives with his motorcade of black vehicles, watching those cameras becomes even more important.
Can you explain why the officers who were monitoring the cameras on the grounds of Parliament Hill took 45 minutes — as you yourself said — to notify Senate security? How is that possible? It defies logic.
And now, all of a sudden, we are supposed to feel extremely safe thanks to this motion that is supposed to get rid of the stovepipes and the gaps in the system.
I still have my doubts. Furthermore, some reports have not been provided to us. I think we are rushing things. Senator, if you want to talk about gaps and stovepipes, I think the first question that needs to be asked is this: why is there a multitude of cameras on the Langevin building, which are used to monitor the grounds of Parliament Hill? Ultimately, we all saw what happened on October 22, when despite all of that, someone managed to get through, and it took 45 minutes for the surveillance officers to inform our security officers.
I therefore have some serious reservations. I had reservations yesterday regarding our privileges and the possibility of examining the issue thoroughly, with all the reports available to us. Indeed, there are some gaps, and yes, there are some stovepipes. I am completely convinced — and you managed to convince us, or me personally at least — that the motion you moved will make the necessary corrections.
Senator Carignan: Senator, we are extremely proud of the quality of the work done by the RCMP and their professionalism. That agency, I would remind the chamber, ensures the safety of tens of millions of Canadians. I think you are showing a lack of respect for that agency, which does an excellent job, and that is even before knowing all the details of the investigation report from the Ontario Provincial Police.
We want to follow through on the report of the Auditor General, who examined this matter very carefully. The fact that there are several security services and units within one area can create operational risks and, ultimately, security risks. The purpose of this motion is to reduce those risks.
Senator Ringuette: I realize that the honourable senator may not have the answer to this question in front of him. However, before we close the discussion and debate on this motion, I would like to know why it took 45 minutes on October 22, 45 minutes, as you mentioned, to notify Senate security of what was happening. That is a fundamental question that must be answered before we can make a decision. Thank you.
Senator Carignan: Senator, I don't need to wait for the answer. If you want to wait for an answer and run the risk of security being threatened because of a stovepipe system of management, and if you want to have higher risks, you can make that decision on your own behalf. As parliamentarians, in light of our fiduciary responsibilities and our obligation to our democracy with respect to security, we must ensure that parliamentary staff, visitors and the millions of Canadians who visit Parliament feel safe. I am not prepared, senator, to run these risks or accept them any longer.
Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Honourable senators, I wish to unreservedly support the motion moved by our leader to have the Royal Canadian Mounted Police head up all teams entrusted with the security of Canada's Parliament.
Despite everything I have heard from the opposition members, I sincerely hope that we will all vote for the motion in this chamber.
Security, our security, is not a partisan issue, let alone a constitutional issue.
Security has become an unavoidable aspect of our daily lives. The events of October 22 brought this home rather forcefully.
Recent events forced us to take a serious look at the security rules in the parliamentary precinct. Changes were made quickly in the weeks following the events. Some are visible and others are less visible, as is necessary when we are dealing with security.
Our guards received new training and are now, for the most part, armed. The resources of both chambers were combined under a single command to be more effective. Furthermore, the outside perimeter of our buildings is better protected by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers.
All of this was done in record time, and all the while Canadians still had access to Parliament.
Aside from these improvements, a general plan had to be developed by security experts. Some of us who have experience in security were consulted, and the motion from the Leader of the Government is in line with our expectations.
It quickly became evident that it was unavoidable to make the RCMP responsible for all security operations. This was the path we had to take to maximize effectiveness.
It's important to understand that with the RCMP taking on responsibility for the security of our buildings, we are not setting aside our Speaker's privileges. Let's call it a delegation of power, and our chamber will remain sovereign.
This is also not a rejection of or threat to our guards, who will continue to carry out their duties in government buildings. They continue to play an essential role. There will even be more of them under the leadership of Mike McDonald, who was recently appointed to lead the unified force of both chambers.
The world is facing a new type of threat, which forces us to do more. We need the input of intelligence services. Investigations need to be launched and conducted by experts. There also needs to be a structured and effective coordination of these elements. Only the RCMP has the necessary investigative powers and resources to carry out these duties that are essential to our safety.
When those who threaten us use sophisticated means, we must do likewise. Not to be open to what I believe is a way to modernize our security system would be unthinkable.
The Fathers of Confederation, to whom people sometimes refer so enthusiastically, could in no way have imagined our reality nearly 150 years later. You can brandish the Constitution as high as you want, but it would not help any of us protect ourselves from a terrorist who got in here with an automatic weapon.
Recently, I've heard things from parliamentarians that suggest they don't really understand the importance of the urgent decision that must be made. That's a shame.
I would just like to remind everyone about what happened after the 1984 killings in Quebec's National Assembly. The Sûreté du Québec took control of security in Government of Quebec buildings.
When that change happened, the guards' functions were not reduced. However, there is now a Sûreté du Québec station at the National Assembly of Quebec, and there are still security guards. They work together.
That is precisely what we are trying to do here today: create an opportunity for teamwork.
I cannot understand why some people are opposed to the idea of the RCMP being present and active in Canada's Parliament Buildings. Obviously, this is no longer 1867. The risks we face today require us to take action to ensure that new security measures are implemented as soon as possible.
That is why I invite all senators, from all parties, to unanimously support the motion before us. The security provided to everyone — parliamentarians, employees, and visitors — has to change with the changing threats.
Hon. Daniel Lang: Colleagues, I'd like to add a few comments with respect to the debate that's before us. I just wanted to share with you my thoughts as a member of the Senate for six years.
I can recall when I was first appointed, and within months of going back to the Victoria Building and to Centre Block, I had a number of conversations with colleagues from both sides of this floor of the house with respect to the question of security and whether or not anyone could really take advantage of this place, if they decided to do us harm. Quite frankly, in any of those conversations that I did have, the senator or senators I was with, or members of Parliament, and I all agreed that if somebody had the intent of attacking this place, the security was not what it should be.
Fast-track six years later, and sure enough, whatever private conversations had ensued, it proved to be true. One can argue about who was in charge of the videos. One can argue whether or not some particular law agency did or did not do its job. The reality of it is, for anybody in this room, we were very fortunate that we did not have three competent, capable, militant individuals attack that day, because a lot of us would not be here today had that been the case.
Colleagues, that was a wake-up call. That was when Canada lost its innocence and we became part of the real world.
Since that attack on October 22, we've seen attacks in Australia, Norway, Copenhagen and France, in Paris. We have seen individuals, for whatever reason — and call them what you may, but I'm going to call them terrorists — we've seen terrorists with the intent to destabilize our countries and the Western world. That's what the underlying motives of these individuals are.
The reality of it is, a week after the incident that took place on the Hill — I'll give you my own personal experience — I went out for exercise. I jogged across the two bridges and back up to Wellington Street and then over to Victoria Building. That week, five days later, I decided I would do something different. I would maybe take that run and go in front of Centre Block. I came up by the Château, in behind the East Block and up into Centre Block. I can tell you that I felt that nothing had changed. If I'd had an automatic weapon and I was intent on entering these premises, I am sure I could have done a lot of damage prior to being taken down. Nothing, in my judgment, had changed.
I can honestly say, as a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, I've raised this issue a number of times. Exactly what are we doing? I can tell you that, yes, some changes have been made here, but they have not been substantive. Quite frankly, I don't feel that much safer than I did on October 22.
So it begs the question: What has happened in three or four months since the incident that was the wake-up call? I don't want to dismiss any of the arguments or the debate that's going on in this house, but that's our problem. We have so many people getting involved in the issue of security here who know very little about it, including myself, other than the fact that I know, I believe, even now, that this place could be a target and a very easy target for those that decided they were going to come back on our premises. So then that says then what can be the next step.
You take a look around — I appreciate our colleague Senator Kenny referring to 1990. The year 1990? Things have changed dramatically since then. Day by day and weekend by weekend we're having terrorist attacks around the world, not just in Canada, and we're part of that. The reality of it today is — it's something I hadn't really thought of — that we have drones. You can go downtown and buy a drone and operate it in such a manner that you may well be able to do an attack on Parliament Hill from a great distance and do a lot of damage. There are so many things out there, technologically, that can be utilized against us, things that were actually there to further our civilization but in some cases are now being used as tools to destroy our civilizations.
We have to wake up. When we talk about the RCMP, we talk about an organization that is incorporated not only nationally as our police force, but internationally. They have a wealth of information that no other police force has and the coordination of all that information, which is so vital in situations such as what we're referring to here.
So I would submit to you, colleagues, that we should be welcoming this motion because it shows a political will and an administrative will that both houses are going to go ahead and they're going to amalgamate the various services in here so that they act as one. Nobody, but nobody, can tell me that on October 22 everything went smoothly. A lot of things went right, but there are some things that didn't go right. And subsequently, we can look back, talk about, examine and look at what went wrong. But the reality is that we have to look to the future of what we can do with respect to security on the Hill.
Quite honestly, until we get security at the fence on Wellington, we will not have done our job. I cannot believe that people can walk into this building, underneath this building, with a packsack before they get to security at the Centre Block, and get there before they're actually inspected. I mean, where else would that happen? We as politicians want it both ways. We want full access for the public, but we want security. We can't make up our minds. I think we can have it both ways, but we need somebody in charge, somebody who knows what they're doing that says, "Here are the things we can do." Like our colleague Senator White, I believe we should start at the fence. Until we start at the fence, we're just playing games and fooling ourselves. Those individuals that actually sit down, get organized and want to do us harm — it's not a problem, even today. So I submit to you members that we should be welcoming this motion and we should be voting for it unanimously, so we can get on with our business.
I have one other comment to make, Your Honour, and that's to you. I appreciated your ruling on the point of order. I felt it was very well thought out, and secondly I thought it gave a very good history lesson with respect to the security systems and how they evolved here over time. There's one statement that I want to read into the record, that you read into the record:
. . . I will, in discussions and negotiations, take my role as custodian of the rights and privileges of the Senate and individual senators most seriously.
Mr. Speaker, I have confidence that you will do that.
(On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth, seconded by the Honourable Senator Patterson, for the second reading of Bill S-225, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (physician-assisted death).
Hon. Josée Verner: Honourable senators, in April 2010, when I was a member in the other place, I supported, at second reading stage, the principle of Bill C-384 introduced by Francine Lalonde, who unfortunately passed away. The bill would have amended the Criminal Code to allow a physician to help an individual die with dignity.
The bill was defeated, but my position has not changed. I rise today as a senator from Quebec to support the principle of Bill S-225, An Act to amend the Criminal Code concerning physician-assisted death, following the historic ruling of the Supreme Court in the Carter case.
I would like to congratulate the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth and the Honourable Senator Campbell for taking this initiative last December. It strikes the right balance between promoting and protecting privacy and respecting human dignity and personal autonomy.
Honourable senators, the ultimate goal of the bill is not to completely legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide. Instead of using these two terms, we should talk about physician-assisted death, as it is now called in Quebec since Bill 52 was passed in June 2014.
Why, you might ask? Because it falls within the broader context of the continuum of end-of-life care. This care is based on values of compassion and dignity, on respect for patients' autonomy and, lastly, on medical and moral support provided by a physician, health care providers and family.
Bill S-225 is based on that approach and proposes an exception to section 241 of the Criminal Code. It would allow people who are of sound mind and suffering from an incurable illness or disability to benefit from a medical option of last resort when other end-of-life care, including palliative care, palliative sedation and life-sustaining treatments no longer alleviate the unbearable suffering and maintain a level of dignity and quality of life — all based on very specific criteria to prevent the abuse of vulnerable individuals and misuse, no more no less.
Honourable senators, it is certainly difficult for all of us to discuss death and physician-assisted death, since these issues involve our own personal convictions and deeply held values about life. However, that is exactly what Dr. Donald Low did; he was a Toronto physician who was well known for his leadership during the 2003 SARS crisis and passed away in September 2013 from complications caused by a brain tumor. In a video posted on YouTube a few days after his death, Dr. Low delivered a moving plea in favour of physician-assisted death. I would like to quote two excerpts that summarize the very essence of the debate we should be having in this chamber. While facing his own certain death, he said, and I quote:
. . . I'm going to die. What worries me is how I'm going to die.
He then addressed those who oppose physician-assisted death and said the following:
I wish they could live in my body for 24 hours and I think they would change that opinion. I'm just frustrated not being able to have control of my own life, not being able to make the decision for myself when enough is enough.
Honourable senators, who are we as legislators to prevent Canadians, in 2015, from discussing end-of-life care with their doctor and, more importantly, choosing in a free and informed manner physician-assisted death that is clearly defined in law?
An August 2014 Ipsos-Reid poll for Dying with Dignity Canada showed that 84 per cent of Canadians share Dr. Low's opinion and are in favour of physician-assisted death as a last resort. Also in August 2014, the members of the Canadian Medical Association adopted a resolution supporting the right of physicians to follow their conscience when deciding to provide or refuse medical aid in dying, if it were allowed.
In short, well before the Supreme Court's decision in Carter, Canadians and doctors were already telling us that the status quo was no longer good enough. They were telling us that Canadian society had reached an unprecedented level of maturity and that we needed to stop sticking our heads in the sand, take responsibility, forget partisanship and seriously examine a legal framework for physician-assisted death, as proposed in Bill S-225.
Like them, I think we were prepared, before we even saw the ruling from this country's highest court, to have a mature, intelligent national dialogue on this important issue.
Honourable senators, Quebec has shown us that it is possible to hold this public discussion in a peaceful, non-partisan way, in order to come to a social consensus and achieve this objective.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, the procedure for physician-assisted death set out in Bill S-225 is similar to the one set out in Bill 52, passed by the Quebec National Assembly in June 2014, regarding end-of-life care. The passage of this bill came nearly 20 years after the Special Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide produced a comprehensive report in June 1995. This report, which resonated across Canada and around the world, was entitled: Of Life and Death.
It was based on a review of hundreds of briefs and on the testimony of nearly 180 agencies, experts and citizens gathered from public hearings held across Canada. As far as voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are concerned, the committee stuck with the status quo, which prohibited these two acts, because it was unable to agree on a unanimous position on the issue.
That being said, a minority of senators suggested that section 241 of the Criminal Code could include an exception if the procedure were done in a medical context and included safeguards in order to prevent abuse and protect the vulnerable. This suggestion remained just that for nearly 20 years in Ottawa. Quebec followed through on the suggestion in 2014 in the broader context of end-of-life care, which falls under health care, a jurisdiction recognized by the Supreme Court in Carter.
To get there, Quebec did its homework as part of a rigorous parliamentary review process and public consultations that began in September 2010 with the launch of the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity.
The consultation was undertaken by Véronique Hivon, MNA for the Parti Québécois, and Maryse Gaudreault, MNA for the Liberal Party of Quebec.
The need to have such a dialogue was borne out of the publication in October 2009 of a discussion paper by the Collège des médecins du Québec calling for a frank and open debate on organizing and making available all the appropriate end-of-life care, including physician-assisted death as a last resort.
This position, similar to that of the Canadian Medical Association, was informed by two October 2009 polls showing that nearly 75 per cent of physicians, general practitioners and specialists in Quebec were in favour of physician-assisted death based on — and I want to emphasize this — the safeguards recommended by a minority of senators in 1995.
Thus, from September 2010 to March 2011, the select committee criss-crossed Quebec to hear testimony from 32 experts and 240 individuals and organizations. It also studied 300 briefs and 6,600 answers to an online questionnaire. Finally, it organized trips to some American states and European countries that have legalized physician-assisted death.
Following the tabling of its report in March 2012, the National Assembly, under the leadership of Ms. Hivon, studied Bill 52 from 2013 to 2014. The purpose of the bill was to implement the 24 unanimous recommendations of the committee. One of these recommendations concerned authorizing physician-assisted death as part of the implementation of the end-of-life palliative care policy.
According to the select committee, the two go hand in hand as part of a continuum of end-of-life care. Bill 52, which will come into effect by December 2015, will authorize an individual to seek medical aid in dying only if a series of medical and legal criteria similar to those in Bill S-225 are met. This will protect vulnerable individuals and prevent abuses.
In addition, the bill states that aid can only be obtained after a formal process that must be documented and approved by two doctors. That process must be reviewed after the fact by the provincial commission on end-of-life care.
Quebec's consensual approach is based largely on the select committee's observations in American and European jurisdictions that have legalized physician-assisted death. Like a Royal Society of Canada expert panel in 2011, the committee found that the abuses people were concerned might occur never materialized. I am therefore very proud that Quebec can serve as an example to the rest of Canada in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision because it has already established a process that I believe strikes a balance between protecting life and respecting an individual's dignity and autonomy.
Honourable senators, physician-assisted death as defined by Bill 52 and Bill S-225 is compatible with a respect for life that I believe honours human dignity and autonomy. We all agree that respect for human life is one of Canadian society's fundamental values. Our laws and policies honour life as precious and promote opportunities for people to find fulfillment and meaning as defined by their values, needs and aspirations throughout their lives. However, there are exceptional end-of-life situations that are so unbearable, despite medical advances and the availability of a full range of palliative care options, that prolonging life violates the human dignity and basic aspirations of the suffering individual. In too many cases, these exceptional situations have driven people to commit suicide in violent and appalling circumstances. The special Senate committee and the Quebec select committee also found that there have been countless unreported, unregulated assisted suicides, although they were unable to ascertain the extent of the practice in Canada because of its criminal nature.
As the Supreme Court points out in paragraph 63 of the Carter ruling, and I quote:
. . . we do not agree that the existential formulation of the right to life requires an absolute prohibition on assistance in dying, or that individuals cannot "waive" their right to life. This would create a "duty to live", rather than a "right to life". . .
The ruling continues as follows:
And it is for this reason that the law has come to recognize that, in certain circumstances, an individual's choice about the end of her life is entitled to respect.
Honourable senators, in 1995, the Special Senate Committee concluded that if the debate could continue, and I quote:
. . . in an atmosphere of tolerance and empathy, the issues can be resolved in a manner that will respect and balance the fundamental right of individual choice with the common good of Canadian society.
It is time for the Senate to revisit this debate by means of Bill S-225. This debate no longer belongs in the courts; it is up to Parliament to legislate, as it should have done all along.
It is time to set aside our legitimate differences of opinion and thoroughly and compassionately examine a bill that strikes the balance hoped for by our colleagues in 1995, and confirmed more recently by the Supreme Court. In that sense, regardless of our own aspirations, values and moral convictions, which may sometimes differ, everyone in this chamber shares these common elements that could lead to a consensus: we want to promote life, liberty and human dignity; we are all mortal; we have all watched loved ones die; we all want to die with dignity, without too much suffering, surrounded by our loved ones; and above all, we want to choose, as much as possible, in a free and informed manner, and based on own convictions, the appropriate care that will allow us to pass on without other people deciding for us.
The Honourable Senator Ruth, the Honourable Senator Campbell, the Honourable Stephen Fletcher from the other place, and the Supreme Court are all encouraging us to take part in this important debate in the coming month. I am seeking your support to ensure that Bill S-225 is passed quickly at second reading and that it can be studied in committee. We owe this to Canadians.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
(On motion of Senator Plett, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Segal, seconded by the Honourable Senator Greene, for the second reading of Bill S-220, An Act to establish the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I move the adjournment of the debate.
(On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moore, seconded by the Honourable Senator Dawson, for the second reading of Bill C-247, An Act to provide that the Department of Employment and Social Development is the main point of contact with the Government of Canada in respect of the death of a Canadian citizen or resident.
Hon. Jacques Demers: Honourable senators, just a reminder that Senator Moore is not here today, but he worked very hard for this bill.
To refresh people's memory, this is an act to provide that the Department of Employment and Social Development is the main point of contact with the Government of Canada in respect of the death of Canadian citizens and residents.
Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise before you today to support private member's Bill C-247, An Act to provide that the Department of Employment and Social Development is the main point of contact with the Government of Canada in respect of the death of a Canadian citizen or resident.
The bill proposes to make the Department of Employment and Social Development the single point of contact with the Government of Canada when it comes to reporting the death of Canadians. I will provide details on the bill itself at a later date, but first I would like to comment on how this bill came to life and how it arrived at this stage.
Our role as parliamentarians is to serve Canadians as best we can. I believe that Bill C-247 is an excellent way to show our commitment to Canadians and our desire to work together.
The bill was first introduced in 2011 by the member of Parliament for Guelph who has put a lot of time and effort into this project, and it was passed unanimously by the other place last fall. I have to take a moment to commend the member for Guelph for his great willingness to cooperate with the government throughout the whole legislative process and allow amendments to the bill.
Right from the beginning the government recognized the member's noble intent to make things simpler for the relatives of a deceased person. Cutting red tape for families is something the government has always promoted.
I am pleased that the opposition and the government have both been open to these constructive amendments that will help improve the bill.
MPs worked together fruitfully and collaboratively — and that's always a good thing — in the other place at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development, and the Status of Persons with Disabilities for the benefit of all Canadians.
For example, the government proposed to modify the wording of the bill so that it wouldn't impose a mechanism which would have forced the estate to communicate death information directly to Service Canada. People would have had to bring the identification documents to a Service Canada centre in person just to prove they were the legal representatives of the estate in question.
Given that the Department of Employment and Social Development, which is responsible for Service Canada, already receives information on deceased individuals directly from almost all provincial vital statistics agencies, survivors should not be required to visit a Service Canada centre for that purpose. There was clearly no need to impose such a burden on Canadian families who had just lost a loved one.
Thanks to this productive cooperation between the political parties, the scope of the bill was narrowed in order to protect Canadians' privacy.
It will now apply only to programs that are authorized to use social insurance numbers and only in cases where death notification is necessary for program integrity purposes. The amendment ensures the protection of Canadians' personal information, including notice of their death.
Also, to avoid any confusion, the name of the bill has been changed from "An Act to expand the mandate of Service Canada in respect of the death of a Canadian citizen or Canadian resident" to "An act to provide that the Department of Employment and Social Development is the main point of contact with the Government of Canada in respect of the death of a Canadian citizen or resident."
Some might say that is just a minor amendment, but I believe it is important. After all, Service Canada does not have its own law.
The amendments also brought in a new clause that requires the Minister of Employment and Social Development to report to Parliament every year.
The implementation deadline has been removed for practical purposes. It will take some time to fully implement this new legislation because the government will need to implicate many partners.
As most of you know, literacy is something that is dear to me, and I believe that the simplification of this process will allow the people who deal with these difficulties every day to be able to deal with the death of a loved one without feeling overwhelmed by all the paperwork.
After talking with Senator Moore, who was so cooperative on this, some poor people have no cars and have to take buses or maybe the train or subway. They don't necessarily have the money to start travelling all over the place. This bill will give the opportunity for one or two persons to go to just one area and get this done in the proper manner. This is one bill that is very much appreciated. When we have 42 per cent of people in the province of Quebec who have difficulty with literacy, it becomes a major problem when you have to go to different outlets to fill in things regarding the death of a loved one.
In the long run, Bill C-247 will make it easier for Canadians to deal with the death of a loved one but, in the meantime, it is reassuring to know that we already have a secure and efficient death notification process in place in Canada. The partnership between the federal government and the provinces' vital statistics agencies currently works very well and, most importantly, it protects Canadians' privacy.
Bill C-247 is now well balanced and, until it comes fully into force, Service Canada will continue to ensure that Canadians are served better and more quickly.
Honourable senators, we do not see too many opposition private member's bills referred to this place for study and final passing, but today I am proud, and I speak for Senator Moore, to support Bill C-247 and I hope all of you will join me in supporting the bill. Ultimately, all Canadians will be better served. Thank you very much.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Moore that this bill be read a second time. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Fraser, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.)
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples entitled: Housing on First Nation Reserves: Challenges and Successes, tabled in the Senate on February 17, 2015.
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson moved the adoption of the report.
He said: Honourable senators, for over a year your Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has been examining the issue of First Nations housing on reserve. It is an issue that many of you may be familiar with. Too often we hear the heartbreaking stories of fire-related deaths, problems of substandard and mould-infested houses on reserve, and serious overcrowding.
From the onset of our exploratory hearings in the fall of 2013, the committee was struck by the sharp disparities between the various First Nations. We travelled to communities in B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, and we heard from communities in provinces that we could not travel to.
There are many factors that contribute to a First Nation's success and ability to invest in and maintain proper housing and general infrastructure. A non-exhaustive list includes: quality inspections; consistent building codes and standards, often lacking; access to affordable materials; availability of own-source revenues; access to capital; and capacity development. Northern and remote communities are at much greater disadvantages than southern communities located minutes from a major city centre.
As the study progressed, your committee observed the emergence of two solitudes. On the one hand, there are First Nations who are dispirited and struggling. Many band members lack access to quality housing, and funding for maintenance and repairs is scarce, while limited and inconsistent amounts of funding for more housing is generally handed out year by year causing long construction delays. These communities are typically in remote locations and lacking own-source revenues from economic opportunities. Adding to their challenges is a lack of capacity in many First Nations communities in building trades, inspectors and trained housing managers.
On the other hand, there are some First Nations that are thriving. Utilizing own-source revenues to supplement government support, leaders have found ways to capitalize on existing programs and policies in order to build more housing and ensure that community members live in quality housing.
Given the diversity of First Nations and the unique needs and struggles that result from a variety of factors that include accessibility, proximity to urban areas and availability of own-source revenue, it can come as no surprise that no single solution can be generally applied to the issues surrounding on-reserve housing.
For instance, we learned that in many communities housing programs are administered by chiefs and band councils amidst their many other duties as a community government, where politics and leadership turnover can complicate the challenges of managing programs, whereas other communities have established arm's-length housing authorities that operate more independently of First Nations governments and typically develop housing policies and standards, and even collect rents.
In many communities, especially in remote areas, southern-style bungalows seem to not reflect the environment and lifestyle of their occupants. Very few communities have houses that have been better designed to reflect the environment and lifestyle of its occupants.
Rent or mortgage payments for band-owned housing are anathema for many communities: housing is considered a treaty right and the total responsibility of government. In other communities, especially where there are jobs and economic opportunities, rents or mortgage payments are collected and used to support proper maintenance programs and leverage new construction.
Land management and distribution of property among band members is another area that is handled differently from community to community. Some issue a certificate of possession to allot parcels of land to individuals, which is part of the framework outlined in the Indian Act. Other communities have signed on to the First Nations Land Management Act, which creates a framework of land management whereby First Nations can enact their own zoning and residential land use laws. Both approaches are part of a unique and complex system of land tenure where the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs holds ultimate title. The committee has heard from numerous witnesses that the current land tenure system inhibits on-reserve housing development. It can also be a real barrier to conventional mortgage or loan financing. Yet some amazing communities have found ways around the system to attract third-party financing from banks and other sources.
There are two primary federal government programs which deliver housing to First Nations reserves. First, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada provides direct funding for housing initiatives on reserves through infrastructure transfer payments and issues ministerial loan guarantees to provide security for lenders. AANDC also has regional offices across Canada to support First Nations communities. Some communities wish they saw those regional representatives more often. Additionally, the department provides shelter allowances through the Income Assistance Program.
CMHC delivers housing programs targeted primarily at low-income clients through its On-Reserve Non-Profit Housing Program, also known as the section 95 program. CMHC also provides financial support to help First Nation members repair substandard homes and to help seniors make the necessary adaptations so they can stay in their homes longer.
Federal governments — and by that I mean both Liberal and Conservative governments — and First Nations have had conflicting views on the question of who is responsible for housing, whether home ownership is desirable and whether rent should be paid. Current government policy found on the AANDC websites states:
The provision and management of housing on reserve lands is the responsibility of First Nations, with support from the Government of Canada.
Many witnesses have expressed that nothing short of total funding would satisfy Canada's fiduciary responsibility to First Nations.
Many well-intentioned government initiatives have sought to deal with the challenges of housing First Nations members on reserves, including: the First Nations Market Housing Fund; the First Nations Fiscal Management Act; the introduction of Ministerial Loan Guarantees; the Shelter Allowance Program; the On-Reserve Non-Profit Housing Program; and the First Nations Land Management Act. Despite these efforts, there is still a large funding gap.
From the beginning, our goal as a committee has been to identify innovative solutions to housing and infrastructure needs of First Nations communities. We must find ways to supplement government funding if we are to address the large housing deficiencies which have been identified. Our work, honourable senators, on seeking innovative solutions is ongoing.
The testimony we have been hearing since the housing portion of our study ended in October of last year, combined with the testimony from future witnesses that we intend to call to come before the committee, focuses on innovative solutions and the broader infrastructure challenges, which of course are essential to support housing. This broader perspective we seek is intended to ensure any recommendations our committee puts forward are well rounded, thoughtful, constructive and practical. This is why we have chosen to wait until the infrastructure and financing portions of our study are complete before putting forward any recommendations.
I am grateful and honoured to chair a committee with such dedicated and invested senators; their questions and the discussions we had when formulating this interim report show how much they care.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the heart and passion that I have observed from the many First Nation leaders, housing managers — that's got to be one of the toughest jobs in the world — community members and organizations that I have met and continue to meet through the course of this study. I find their perseverance and unwavering dedication inspiring.
Hon. Nicole Eaton: May I ask a question?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Would the Honourable Senator Patterson take a question?
Senator Patterson: Yes.
Senator Eaton: Recently, Senator Patterson, we had CMHC at a Standing Senate Committee on National Finance meeting and I understood — because I asked the question — that they give the money to the various reserves or places in the North that need housing. However, once they give the money, they are not allowed or they cannot go on reserve to inspect the building.
Would that be one of your future considerations? They cannot even train local inspectors to go on reserve to inspect the buildings as they are being built or when they are finished. Is that something you might consider in your recommendations?
Senator Patterson: I'm glad the honourable senator asked that question because the committee was very concerned when we first started our study to learn that inspections were not taking place in many communities and that there weren't even building codes in place. We asked the CMHC witnesses about that early in our study and they said, in effect, this is up to the First Nations government. They leave it up to them and they kind of had a hands-off attitude.
However, since the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance asked those questions about accountability for the funds and inspections, we have subsequently heard from CMHC and they had a different tone. When they appeared later before our committee, they expressed the desire to do more to ensure that CMHC-funded homes were inspected.
I think that attitude, which was of concern to us and which was of concern to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, is changing. That attitude seems to be changing. I think there's already progress on this issue and undoubtedly we will address that question of inspections and building codes in our final report. I thank the honourable senator for the question.
Hon. Scott Tannas: I would like to adjourn the debate in my name.
(On motion of Senator Tannas, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Downe, seconded by the Honourable Senator Chaput:
That the Senate call upon the Members of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada to join the Senate in its efforts to increase transparency by acknowledging the longstanding request of current and former Auditors General of Canada to examine the accounts of both Houses of Parliament, and thereby inviting the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a comprehensive audit of House of Commons expenses, including Members' expenses, and
That the audits of the House of Commons and the Senate be conducted concurrently, and the results for both Chambers of Parliament be published at the same time.
Hon. Stephen Greene: Honourable senators, I move that this debate be adjourned in my name.
(On motion of Senator Greene, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, February 19, 2015, at 1:30 p.m.)